Kyle's story

Kyle sitting up in his hospital bed smiling with a cast on his left arm.

Kyle Rodriguez, a dedicated automotive enthusiast, balances his life between attending classes at Lincoln Tech and pursuing his passion for automobiles, often found tinkering with cars or cruising on his motorcycle. Little did he know that a motorcycle accident during a Thanksgiving break ride with friends would dramatically alter his life.

On that fateful day, while riding his motorcycle home after grabbing pizza with friends, Kyle was struck by a car. “Things go blank from there,” he recalled. “Then I woke up on someone’s lawn - I flew off the bike 30 feet.” Swiftly, emergency services transported him to Hacksensack Meridian Health, where he underwent a series of surgeries to mend the fractures in his left wrist, right thigh, and hip.

Although stabilized, the injuries left him with limited use of his left arm and unable to stand or walk on his own. Kyle’s immediate concern was, “I am going to be a cripple.” However, he changed his perspective and “decided to fight this.”

He chose the specialized orthopedic rehabilitation program at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Saddle Brook with the goal of returning to his everyday life and “proving to my family that I’m okay so they don’t have to stress out.”

“I wanted to push myself and get back to normal as fast as possible,” he said. His physician-led team of nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and other specialists drew on their expertise and his personal needs to develop a treatment plan that allowed him to quickly begin his therapy.

Kyle showed an incredible work ethic from the start and overcame many challenges during his stay. In physical therapy, he focused on improving his strength, balance and mobility through various hands-on exercises. He recalled, “I was so tired ... but then after a couple days, I had all the energy in the world. I think it was both a mental and physical turning point.”

With determination and encouragement from his care team, his hard work allowed him to progress from a wheelchair to standing without assistance. He reached a big milestone when he was “able to stand up from the hi-lo mat when it was really low.” He added, “I wasn’t able to do it at the beginning but as soon as I did it without help, I said, ‘This is it’.”

He and his family are proud of the progress he made. Kyle recalled, “I was able to just stand right up for my mom during the family training and I saw the smile on her face,” he exclaimed.

His occupational therapists provided the skills and strategies to be independent in his daily activities, using his left hand and arm. “They were able to find a way for me to move my arm…It felt really good to do,” he said.

He describes his Kessler experience as “fantastic.” Crediting his care team for his confidence, “Everybody is nice to talk to and enthusiastic. I’m usually very shy, but I was able to open up to you guys, no matter who my therapist was.”

Now, Kyle offers advice for others facing rehabilitation: Push yourself. “These people are here to help you,” he said. “You have to find it in yourself to get better…You can do it.”

After his two-week stay at Kessler, he felt he had “over-exceeded” his goals. He learned that if he set his mind to something, he can achieve it. He planned to continue to regain his strength and mobility through in-home therapy.